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Rory MacDonald captures Bellator middleweight title with unanimous decision over Douglas Lima

Rory MacDonald (L) and Douglas Lima in their Welterweight World Title fight at Bellator 192 at The Forum on January 20, 2018 in Inglewood, California. MacDonald won by decision. (Getty Images)

It was a tale of two fights when Douglas Lima and Rory MacDonald clashed for Lima’s middleweight title in the co-main event of Bellator 192. In the end, it would be Rory MacDonald winning the war of attrition and becoming the new Bellator middleweight champion with a unanimous decision victory.

It was evident from the early rounds what each fighter had planned to do. MacDonald wasted no time looking to keep the fight on the mat while Lima sought to impose his will in the striking department. But it was MacDonald who was successful with his game plan.

The early rounds found MacDonald closing the distance and deploying his superior clinch and ground game. Lima tried to control the distance but the Canadian kept the pressure on until eventually scoring a takedown late in the first round that secured the opening stanza.

The former UFC welterweight contender kept the pressure on in the second and worked inside with the clinch with a much more methodical pace but there was a price to pay as Lima made early deposits with a stiff jab and leg kicks that would eventually pay off in the later rounds.

As the fight progressed, MacDonald began to wear the damage from Lima’s jab and leg kicks. Even though he was losing the first two rounds, Lima was very much in the fight.

The leg kicks finally started adding up and a hard shot in the thrid took MacDonald’s legs out from under him. At that very moment, the fight shifted in Lima’s favor as MacDonald stared up at his opponent with a possibly broken nose and a damaged leg.

At the start of the fourth and knowing that the pendulum of momentum had swung in Lima’s direction, MacDonald telegraphed a takedown that Lima stuffed, took MacDonald down and landed in the mount. After three minutes of top position, the fight was stood up but MacDonald clearly wanted no part of the standup and immediately clinched.

With a round to go and a nasty welt taking form on MacDonald’s shin and his face busted up, the challenger needed to dig deep and get back to what he does best.

MacDonald brought the fight to the ground quickly in the final frame and worked over Lima with ground and pound. A short elbow split Lima over his right eye and from that point on, MacDonald worked over his opponent from within the guard and refused to allow Lima to breathe.

In the end, the judges saw it in favor of MacDonald with scores of 49-48, 49-45 and 49-46 to become the new 170 pound champion.

“He’s the best fighter I’ve ever fought,” MacDonald said afterward. “I came in the very best of my entire career and this guy gave me challenges everywhere. I definitely feel like the best in the world after fighting with that guy.”

After an unsuccessful attempt at capturing UFC gold, MacDonald has found a place to call himself king at Bellator.